The Office of Sustainability is organizing discussion groups for UW–Madison faculty, staff and students participating in one or more of UW–Madison’s five 2015 sustainability-themed MOOCs (massive open online courses) to enhance engagement with the course material and create a community of learners centered around the courses.

IMG_20150219_124157MOOCs are free, not-for-credit courses that are open to all learners, including staff and faculty at UW–Madison. The 2015 UW–Madison MOOC lineup includes five sustainability-themed four-week sessions, listed below.

The discussion groups are for campus faculty, staff (classified and unclassified) and students who are enrolled in one or more of the UW–Madison MOOCs. They will be peer-facilitated and will meet weekly during each MOOC. Since the MOOCs are not for credit, the discussion sessions will be informal exchanges about the material and no grades will be assigned.

Participation in the MOOCs and discussion groups is free and open to any campus community member. Registration for discussion groups will remain open until all seats filled.

Enrollment is now open for discussion groups for the Climate Change Policy and Public Health MOOCs!

Refreshments will be provided and participants will receive a certificate of completion from the Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Dean of Continuing Studies.

These discussion groups:IMG_1005-300x200

  • will meet for one hour per week for the duration of the MOOC (4 weeks)
  • are informal; participation is not-for-credit and will not be evaluated
  • are self-structured; format and structure is decided by group members
  • will have between 8 to 10 members
  • will be facilitated by a group member
  • are free to all participants
  • are only open to members of the UW community

To join a discussion group:

Step 1: Enroll in the MOOC of interest

Step 2: Register for a discussion group

To learn more about the UW–Madison MOOCs and enroll please visit  The curriculum release schedule for sustainability-themed MOOCs is as follows:

Jan 26: The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation

Feb 23: Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region

June 21: Energy and the Earth

Sept 30: Forests and Humans: From the Midwest to Madagascar

Nov 9: Climate Change Policy and Public Health

If you would like to read a news article about the discussion groups, click here.


Questions about the MOOC discussion groups can be directed to Anna Ostermeier.

Here are some statements from former MOOC participants:

“(I liked) meeting new people and talking about these issues from a multidisciplinary approach.”

“I liked the relaxed open atmosphere (food, meeting space, tone of discussion) all helped with this”

“The discussion session really added to the overall quality of the MOOC – it was much easier to put the video lectures and readings in context when talking out loud and with other people.”